13 Things Sex And The City Got Right About Life In New York City

Photo: Moviestore/Re/REX Shutterstock.
“There is a time of year in New York when, even before the first leaf falls, you can feel the seasons click. The air is crisp, the summer is gone. And for the first night in a long time, you need a blanket on your bed.”

When Carrie Bradshaw said this in season 4 of Sex and the City, she was basically speaking a universal New York truth. She, along with the rest of the show, was not right about everything. In fact, they got a lot wrong — and this disconnect has been written about extensively. So, yes, let it be said again that writing a monthly column can’t support New York City rents (especially with an apartment that size), life is not a nonstop social hour filled with cosmopolitans and brand-new Manolo Blahnik heels, and it’s not that absurdly easy to find a date every single night.

But Sex and the City wasn’t completely filled with unattainable fantasies — and it actually got way more than the above quote right. Ahead, we’ve compiled 13 truths Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda taught us about life in New York City.
1 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Here, Nothing Will Shock You
If there’s one thing you can count on in this city, it’s that crazy things happen; you know, the kind that you can hardly believe happened, even though you witnessed them firsthand. In season 3, Carrie narrates: "It's been said that New Yorkers are the most jaded people in the world. The fact is, we've pretty much done and seen it all. It takes quite a bit to shock us…" And that's true. Is that person actually forcing traffic to stop just to dance in the street? Of course. Is that person wearing a cat on his head? Naturally, and he’s charging money for you to snap a picture. Did Berger really break up with Carrie using a Post-It note? Yes, he did. And, she probably saw three crazier things on her commute home because, well, that's New York for you.
2 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Everyone Is Always Reminiscing About Old New York
Before moving to New York City, we’d already heard tons about the New York of yesteryear: It was better, it was the “real” thing. Sex and the City took this notion to the extreme, when notorious party girl Lexi proclaimed, “New York is over. O-V-E-R. Over. No one’s fun anymore. What happened to fun? I’m so bored I could die” — and then proceeded to fall out the window (R.I.P.). Though the scene may have felt a bit exaggerated, the sentiment is one that is never far off anyone’s tongue. Somehow, in a city that is always looking to the future, its residents are always looking to the past. Just ask typical New Yorkers about the first neighborhood they lived in, or their favorite bar in the city — they're bound to give you an earful of how "better" it was way back when.
3 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Maintaining Friendships Isn't A Walk In The Park
Balancing friendships with relationships wasn’t easy for Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha — and it’s certainly not easy in real life, either. We’ve all felt ignored before; we’ve also all ignored our friends because we were wrapped up in a new relationship. There's been times when you feel like you are the only single person in the world (hello, Miranda circa season 3), or the only married one (see: Charlotte and Trey's nuptials), and it can be extra lonely and awkward to navigate where you stand with your friend group. Some of the best moments on the show were when they explored those feelings, proving that even the closest of BFFs are going to be at different stages of life sometimes. This can be tense, painful, and awkward — and, thankfully, SATC did not gloss over those moments.
4 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Financial Woes Are No Joke
At one point in the fourth season, Carrie reaches out to everyone begging for money to buy her apartment back from Aidan — the bank; her ex-boyfriend, Big; a pregnant Miranda; and a recently divorced Charlotte. We’ll never know why she thought this was appropriate behavior as a friend, but it was certainly a moment of truth in the otherwise-absurd fictional finances of the show. It proved that money doesn’t just appear — though we're still wondering how on earth Carrie spent $40,000 on shoes alone — and that even the smallest of transactions will add up in the long run. Hearing, “I really want those shoes/that extra drink/to take a cab home right now, but I need to pay rent” is a common New York struggle. Thankfully, people who actually live here tend to allot their finances to rent…most of the time.
5 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Unattainable Beauty Standards Can Make You Go Crazy
“Why is it that we can see our friends perfectly, but when it comes to ourselves, no matter how hard we look, do we ever see ourselves clearly?” Carrie asked in season 4. All four women were beautiful. Sometimes they felt beautiful and confident. The show explored that. Sometimes they felt ugly and insecure. The show explored that, too. Nothing was off-limits. They discussed their concerns about aging, pubic hair, wrinkles, and weight. It was during season 6, when Miranda struggled with losing the weight she gained during her pregnancy, that the show really got honest. Miranda was convinced even shop owners were judging her. They weren’t. But when we are hating on part of our body, it’s really hard to forget that it’s not the focal point of everyone else’s life too.
6 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The City Isn't Really That Big, After All
You’re walking down the street and feeling great. Then you run into your ex. In an ideal world, once you break up with someone, they leave your life completely; or, as Carrie said, “I had often fantasized about running into my ex and his wife. But in those fantasies, I was running over them with a truck.” Alas, we don’t live in that type of world. Especially in New York — for being a “big city,” it’s one of the smallest places around, where you're bound to run into the one person you don’t want to see too many times to count. Season after season, we watched the women confront their exes: Carrie with Big (and later, Aidan), Miranda with Steve. It was awkward. It was unlucky. And it was also inevitable. Because the only thing harder than dating in New York City is avoiding those bad dates afterward.
7 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Fertility Struggles Are Real — & We Should Talk About Them More
For most of a woman’s life, she is reminded by society, the media, and basically everyone around her, that being female and being fertile are expected to go together. Hell, from middle school on, every girl gets a painful, obnoxious monthly reminder just to prove the point. Yet that's not the case for all women. In fact, 12% of women in the United States have difficulty carrying a child to term, though it’s something that we seem to still feel ashamed to talk about. Miranda and Charlotte both opened up about their fertility struggles (as Miranda said when she got pregnant with Steve's baby accidentally: "He has one ball, and I have a lazy ovary! In what twisted world does that create a baby? It's like the Special Olympics of conception"), and the latter eventually turned to her friends after having a miscarriage. These fictional women didn’t just help today’s women feel more comfortable talking about sex but also about the very real conversations that take place after it.
8 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Tons Of Unavoidable Factors Will Test Your Relationship
Almost every season of SATC explored the struggles of finding the "right" person. Yet the hardest part may not be actually meeting someone. Instead, it might just be trying to make a life with that person work. In New York City, there are two things that make relationships so impossibly difficult: living in different boroughs, and having different schedules. In season 2, Miranda and Steve were put to the test, with her waking up early for her career as a lawyer, and him working nights as a bartender. From Miranda and Steve making dinner (remember when she dropped the jar of pasta sauce on the ground) to the pair taking care of a puppy, our eyes were opened to life after finding Mr./Ms. "Right" — and how much work goes into keeping a relationship in New York alive.
9 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Brunch Isn't A Meal — It's A Lifestyle
Sure, we may not all be able to afford to have brunch every single weekend, like these four friends. But if you're going to get the whole gang at the same table, it's probably going to be during the best mealtime of the week: brunch. There is food. There are drinks. And there are personal conversations. The show really got that right.
10 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Guests Can Definitely Overstay Their Welcome
We all know that New York is a destination. It probably played a part in why we decided to live here in the first place. However, that isn’t always a good thing. Our apartments (which are the smallest around, we know) can be treated like a hotel by a revolving list of friends coming to visit who just can’t afford (or aren't willing to splurge on) a hotel. Most of the time, we’re on board with spending quality time and sharing our homes with friends. But just like when Samantha shacked up with Charlotte (and slept with her brother), we all have those moments where guests can take things too far.
11 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Some People Do Eventually Leave The City
We move to New York with big dreams, and quickly categorize ourselves in two camps. There are the people that declare themselves lifelong New Yorkers; and there are those that declare, of course, they will leave the city for the suburbs soon enough. When the self-declared lifers start leaving, it feels like an extra betrayal. When it’s Carrie Bradshaw? Unspeakable. Yes, she did come back. But she also left for Paris with this crazy idea that it would be forever. And Carrie’s not the only one. People start to want more, less, or just something else altogether. The goodbyes start to feel routine, and you just feel conflicted. How can they break up with New York City?
12 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Escaping For The Weekend Is A Must
“One of the best things about living in a city like New York is leaving it”: Carrie Bradshaw never spoke truer words. Yes, we love our city. But sometimes we need to escape the crowds, the trash, the tourists, and the hardly audible announcements of “Ladies and gentleman, we are experiencing a momentarily delay because of train traffic ahead of us.” Whether it’s the Hamptons for the weekend, Los Angeles for a business meeting, or Paris for a love affair, there's is nothing better than getting out of town. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, no?
13 of 13
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Life Here Is Unlike Anywhere Else
Sex and the City is a love letter to female friendship, to powerful women, to sex, and, yes, to New York City. Life in the Big Apple isn’t easy. We work long hours, we deal with random outbursts on the street, we sweat buckets waiting for delayed trains, and we come home to an insanely small apartment (where we pay an exorbitant amount of rent to live). But we all have one thing in common: We choose to live here, because we are all in the midst of a passionate love affair with the city. Even on our worst days, New Yorkers find their home to be the most magical place in the whole world. Cue Carrie saying, "If you can only have one great love, then the city just may be mine." We feel exactly the same.

More from New York


R29 Original Series